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Chicago Plays Its Way Into The Cup Finals

Sunday, 06.9.2013 / 2:09 PM CT
By Stu Grimson - TV Analyst / Stu Grimson's Blog
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In addition to advancing on to the Stanley Cup Finals, this year’s iteration of the Chicago Blackhawks also managed to punctuate the victory as they did so. This group is not taking no for an answer.

Facing elimination, the Kings gave no indication they’d put up much of a fight by the close of the first period in Game 5. 2-0 Blackhawks. Duncan Keith gets Chicago on the board in the opening minutes and gives the Kings good reason to doubt Jonathan Quick’s preparation in the process. This is a softy; a slapper from well out that beat Quick ‘tween the pads. Uh, not the way L.A. hoped to start this one.

Just two minutes later, Patrick Kane adds the insurance marker as Jonathan Toews drives the net front and creates a goalmouth scramble. It was a savvy little display of patience on Kane’s part as he holds while pulling the puck across the net front. And why would you want to slide it along the ice into an empty net when you can bury it under the bar? (Wonder how the Bruins feel about this kid regaining his confidence?)

But credit the Kings for this much. After the opening period, they had every reason to pack the bus and return to the coast. But they shook it off, they cinched up their bootstraps and, with the exception of the second overtime, they outshot the Hawks in every period thereafter.

Dwight King nets one in the second and Anze Kopitar does the same early in the third. The Kings have battled back to even against the best team in the NHL in what might be the most imposing venue in professional sports. In my opinion, this and what comes next is what separates this tournament from all others.

With just 3:52 remaining in the final stanza, Kane breaks the tie with his fifth of the postseason. Surely the Kings are willing to go quietly by now? Enough already, right? Not so. During a late timeout in advance of a last chance faceoff in the Hawks’ zone, assistant coach Davis Payne draws up the play. And the Kings execute it to the letter. Mike Richards redirects it past Crawford to tie it with just nine seconds left.

Add to that, the Kings outshoot and out-chance the home team during the first overtime. Was it Butch or Sundance who said “who are those guys?”

Chicago is forced to dig in again. And to no one’s surprise, it’s Toews leading the way. Midway through the second OT, he sends a perfect pass through to Kane on a 2-on-1 as he pockets his third goal of the night.

Chicago moves on to face Boston. And as importantly, the Hawks declare in the process that this is a team that refuses to be denied. The Bruins may have something to say about that. In any case, the table is set for another great Final.

See you around the rink.

SMASHVILLE CENTRAL

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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - DAL 82 50 23 9 267 230 109
2 x - STL 82 49 24 9 224 201 107
3 x - CHI 82 47 26 9 235 209 103
4 y - ANA 82 46 25 11 218 192 103
5 x - LAK 82 48 28 6 225 195 102
6 x - SJS 82 46 30 6 241 210 98
7 x - NSH 82 41 27 14 228 215 96
8 x - MIN 82 38 33 11 216 206 87
9 COL 82 39 39 4 216 240 82
10 ARI 82 35 39 8 209 245 78
11 WPG 82 35 39 8 215 239 78
12 CGY 82 35 40 7 231 260 77
13 VAN 82 31 38 13 191 243 75
14 EDM 82 31 43 8 203 245 70

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
F. Forsberg 82 33 31 1 64
R. Josi 81 14 47 -3 61
J. Neal 82 31 27 27 58
S. Weber 78 20 31 -7 51
M. Ribeiro 81 7 43 11 50
C. Smith 82 21 16 4 37
M. Ekholm 82 8 27 14 35
R. Johansen 42 8 26 10 34
R. Ellis 79 10 22 13 32
C. Jarnkrok 81 16 14 1 30
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 34 21 10 .908 2.48
C. Hutton 7 5 4 .918 2.33